In a move it said was made recognition of the “dedication, long hours and increased risk of working to contain the COVID-19 outbreak,” the Ontario government announced today it is providing frontline staff with temporary pandemic pay.
During the announcement, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the increase will $4/per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages, regardless of the qualified employee’s hourly wage. In addition, employees working over 100 hours per month would receive lump sum payments of $250 per month for each of the next four months.
According to the province, this means that eligible employees working an average of 40 hours per week would receive $3,560 in additional compensation.
Those eligible to receive the payment include staff working in long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions and youth justice facilities, as well as those providing home and community care and some staff in hospitals.
“During these dark days, the Ontario spirit continues to shine through with everyday acts of heroism, courage, and compassion by our frontline workers,” said Premier Ford. “These people put themselves in harm’s way to care for our sick and vulnerable citizens. I am truly grateful, as are the people of Ontario, for their service, and it’s time we give something back to those who sacrifice so much day in and day out.”
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Staff providing frontline clinical services, along with those providing support services, such as cleaning and meal preparation, will be eligible to receive the pandemic payment. The additional compensation is temporary and would begin flowing immediately and continue for 16 weeks.
“It is vital that we retain our frontline health care workers as we continue our fight to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We are taking further actions to continue to ensure that our healthcare workers are supported, and the health care sector maintains a safe staffing level, especially in places where it is needed the most.”
The pandemic payment “recognizes the valiant efforts of our frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19,” said Treasury Board President Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy. “These heroic workers are delivering critical services that support all Ontarians, including the most vulnerable members of our communities, often putting themselves or their loved ones at risk. They are saving lives and we owe them an incredible debt of gratitude.”
The province said these measures build on steps the government has already taken to support frontline workers, including providing free emergency child care and securing necessary medical equipment and supplies.